Youth movement in Charleston
HUNTINGTON -- The West Virginia Girls Basketball State Tournament features many talented athletes.
What it won't feature are many talented athletes from the area who are looking for a title before graduating in the spring. That's because the state girls basketball landscape is overrun with many young players who are quickly establishing themselves.
It was only two years ago that Huntington St. Joe had a crop of four freshmen -- Mychal Johnson, Griffin Dempsey, Asia Petitte and Rachel Lee -- burst onto the scene and log significant minutes in a Class A state championship run.
Ironically, those players -- now juniors -- are the veterans of the area contingent heading to Charleston with title dreams on their minds.
The representatives from Class AAA, Region IV are Spring Valley and Logan -- a pair of teams whose leaders still have a couple of years to go before they head off to college.
In the case of Spring Valley, a trio of sophomores -- Madison Morris, Sarah Kelly and Brooke Heck -- anchor the top-seeded Timberwolves' attack.
Morris is averaging 18.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game in the post while Kelly does a little of everything from her point guard spot with 10 points, 7.1 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game.
Heck is averaging 10 points and five rebounds per game as well for the balanced Timberwolves.
Logan is similar to the Timberwolves with leader Shayna Gore just a sophomore.
Gore, who is on the ESPN HoopGurlz Top 100 Watch List for the Class of 2015, has elevated her game in the postseason.
After scoring 27 in a 78-70 win over then-No. 3 Huntington High in the section semifinal, Gore followed with a career-high 36 in a 68-67 loss to Spring Valley.
Gore then showed her versatility in the Class AAA, Region IV co-final.
With St. Albans double-teaming her, she got teammates the ball in scoring situations to lead to a 57-46 win.
Gore finished with just nine points, but she dished out 15 assists in the win that put Logan in the state tournament for the third time in school history and the first since 2000.
In addition to Gore, Logan has another pair of underclassmen who can fill the score sheet in freshman post Monica Mitchell, who averages 17 a game, and Kyra Cline, a 3-point specialist who has the ability to score 20 any night.
Spring Valley and Logan are not the only ones in the Class AAA tournament who are assuming the leadership role as Class of 2015 and Class of 2016 players.
Parkersburg South freshman Taryn McCutcheon brought her team through the gauntlet in the postseason, defeating a pair of Top 10 teams -- Wheeling Park and University -- to advance to Charleston.
Against University, McCutcheon brought the Patriots back from a 12-point halftime deficit by scoring 26 points in a 65-53 win.
Capital sophomore Dashia Foster, who played at Huntington St. Joe last year, had a big part in the Cougars' upset of then-No.1 Greenbrier East in the Class AAA, Region III final.
Foster finished with six points and nine rebounds to help Capital to its first state tournament appearance since 2002.